Reviewed by: Shruti Pal
Sweet Crude might be a variety of petroleum, but luckily for us music lovers, it is also the oxymoronic name of a brilliant seven-piece band from Louisiana. Channeling their Cajun French roots, the band plays folksy, indie, guitar-less music with lyrics in both French and English. They describe Louisiana French to be a very musically apt language, as its oral form often misses syllables, allowing the language to play a percussive role. The group has been championed by the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana for their efforts in keeping the French heritage in Louisiana alive.
Sweet Crude’s popularity has been growing in the past few years. This can be credited to the release of their 2013 EP Sweet Vilaine and buzz-creating live shows. Single “Parlez-Nous a Boire” saw special success with its feature in FX’s American Horror Story.
Their latest EP, Critters, is able to marvelously reconcile their unique singing style with impactful and catchy songs. Track “La Cheminee”, is a perfect embodiment of who the band is today. The song is emotional in the way of a Stars song, and also sounds like what one would imagine Beirut to play on their happiest day. Bands like Beirut and Stars are able to channel their sounds into packaged songs that are accessible and memorable, and now Sweet Crude is among such bands. Alex Mercaux’s vocals are growly and punchy in the chorus, giving the song a radio edge. Every instrument’s part seems integral and well composed, but we shouldn’t expect less from a group of people with degrees in music! Even the xylophone part is carefully constructed and harmonized with, adding a whole new dimension to the song. It is wonderful to see Sweet Crude realizing their potential.
“Mon Esprit” reminds you just how beautiful Alex Mercaux’s voice is, while also giving Critters drama and depth. Although a great tune and dynamic rollercoaster with impressive bass and string sections, “Isle Dans le Mar”, is pushing too hard to be mainstream. Strangely, the unending “na na nas” in the chorus seem contradictory to the importance the band places on words and language.
However, “Lasseiz les Lazy” stays true to the band, and the English and French parts effortlessly blend together, as it is hard to even tell when they start or end. The funky bass and drum part, synth, odd lyrics, and male chorus of voices come together to create an anthem that guarantees smash live performances.
Definitely add this EP to your summer playlist.